BEER, THE UNIVERSE, AND EVERYTHING
It had been a monumental turning-point through the development of Metal. In near synchrony with a similar boom from within the San Francisco Bay (U.S.A.) area, the mid-1980's saw Germany spew forth a glorious wave of Thrash bands, collectively grabbing the nascent 'extreme' metal scene by the throat. In spite of the enduring influence of this phenomenon, only a handful of bands are still plying their trade today. Destruction, Sodom and Kreator are 3 such bands. Tankard is another.
With a moniker referring to the drinking-mug usually utilised to drink beer, Tankard have turned beer guzzling into an art form. Blending high-gear Thrash with a heavy dose of sarcasm and humour, the band is simply unique as far as general preconceptions of Metal bands go.
Just 3 days after the release of "The Beauty And The Beer", album no.12, I have at the other end of the phone line Andreas Geremias (more affectionately known as 'Gerre') - Tankard's vocalist and chief beer drinker.
Chris: How do you feel now that "The Beauty And The Beer" has been released and what are the first reactions to the album?
Gerre: I have a lot of promotion work to do right now, a lot of interviews. That's quite good. Today I was free from work so all day long I was searching the internet for reviews on "Beauty And The Beer". The reviews seem to be quite good and I'd say we are very satisfied at the moment.
C: And there shall probably be more reviews in the coming days. How would you describe this new album?
G: I think it's the same album like the others but it has another cover and new song-titles…..
G: No. I was only kidding! Ha-ha!!! I think it's a typical Tankard thrash metal album. In respect to "Beast Of Bourbon" [Tankard's previous studio-album] maybe some guitar parts are a bit more melodic. Once more we worked with Andy Classen [Holy Moses, Callenish Circle, Disbelief, Graveworm, etc… ] and I think he did quite an amazing sound again.
C: It's not the first time you worked with Andy Classen………
G: It's the third time now.
C: I also thought the artwork of "Beauty….." was pretty cool. There are also some interesting details such as the Beast who seems undecided whether to grab the girl's tits or her beer.
Another detail is the tie around the Beast's neck which bears familiar colours…….
C: I think it has the same colours of football team Eintracht Frankfurt of which I know you are a big fan.
G: [laughs] Oh yeah, the colours of Eintracht are black and red. But I don't really think that was planned. The guy who did this cover is the same guy who did the cover for the DVD [recent release "Fat, Ugly And Still (A)live"].
We also did a video clip for 'Beauty And The Beast', one of the songs in "Beauty And The Beer". This video-clip shall be included in the very first edition of the album.
C: Who directed this video-clip?
G: It was a guy who also did some other clips. His name is Mario. It is really a low-budget thing, but very funny. For this video, we used a lot of 'beauties', a lot of girls.
C: Ha-ha! That sounds interesting.
C: Gerre, let's talk more about yourself. Considering you've been with Tankard for probably more than half your lifetime, are you satisfied with what you've achieved with the band or are there any as yet unrealised ambitions?
G: We would love to play in all those countries we have never been to yet, such as South America and U.S.A.. You know, this is the only reason we keep Tankard going - to travel to different countries……and tasting new beer. [laughs]
Seriously though, Tankard has been together for 24 years - our bass player [Frank Thorwarth] and me were right there since the very beginning. I'm a little bit proud, of course, that we never gave up - especially in the mid-1990's, when Thrash Metal was not very popular. As a result we didn't have many gigs then and nobody seemed interested any more. But we kept going because we were really into that kind of music. We love to play this kind of Metal.
I think another very important thing [that contributed to our longevity] is that everybody in the band has a regular job. So we don't live from the music and there is no pressure to sell as many records as possible and tour as much as possible. We are totally free. And the music comes straight from the heart.
The beauty And The Beer
C: Tankard does seem to looks at events with a humourous eye. You must admit, however, that most of Thrash has an aggressive image with Thrash bands generally writing angry lyrics. How would you explain this association of Thrash with violence?
G: Yeah, most people do that but I think we do it our own special way because we really don't take ourselves too seriously. We simply have a lot of fun playing this kind of music.
It really wouldn't make sense for the band's members to write only violent lyrics. We always try to propose a good mixture of fun stuff and serious stuff. We also have serious lyrics of course as I think you cannot do an album with 10 or 12 fun lyrics - that wouldn't really be a true reflection of life. I would say we've been doing this mixture for many years now and we'll keep on doing it that way.
C: Tankard has been together for nearly a quarter of a century and in fact, before this interview, I was seeing the vintage band-photos on www.tankard.org . You've really changed a lot physically - like anybody does after all!
C: But how have you changed as a person over the years?
G: [pauses] Well, it's very hard to say how I've changed as a person talking about myself. Of course I'm not 20 years old any more - that's for sure. When I go on stage and perform that kind of music I'm still very young. As soon as I come off stage I'm back to my true age again. [laughs] I'm totally out of power after a performance.
Of course we're not as wild, off stage, as we were 20 years ago……but sometimes we still have a good time partying and making some noise. It's different from how we were 20 years ago but I think that's normal.
C: You know, I remember seeing you live at Wacken and I wasn't sure who was having more fun - the audience or Tankard. Do you consider Tankard entertainers or musicians?
G: Of course first of all we are musicians but then entertainment also belongs to the image and to the attitude of the band. You can see this when we play live.
C: Could you give me a funny anecdote concerning a recent tour or gig?
G: Well, we did a couple of shows recently and I was a little bit drunk. So I grabbed this young lady from the audience onto the stage and we started dancing. Very spontaneous stuff happens sometimes when we play.
C: I'd like discuss the Thrash scene of Germany. As a person who has practically lived through its entire history as one of its protagonists, how do you think it has changed?
G: There was a strong sense of community from the mid to the end of the 1980's. We still have bands from that time today, such as Kreator, Sodom and Destruction. There were some other good bands then such Death Row and Assassin. Actually I think Assassin reunited a couple of years ago, but I didn't hear much of them so I don't know [what they're up to] .
C: What is your relationship with the bands you've just mentioned?
G: Well, when we meet we chat, have a beer together and there's a very relaxed atmosphere between us. We had toured with Sodom once, a couple of years ago. I think that Sodom and Tankard really fit together. In fact Tom [Angelripper], the singer and boss of the band also has quite a good kind of humour.
C: Deviating a bit from the subject of music, or beer…..earlier on we mentioned football. Well in a few days your home country shall be hosting the World Cup tournament. Who do you foresee as winner of the tournament?
G: I'm a big football supporter myself, but I'm more into my club - Eintracht Frankfurt. Yeah, there's like a big fever over here, but [the World Cup] is all a big commercial event. I don't really care who wins - if anything I hope an 'outsider' wins, just like when Greece had won the European Championship. You know, I'm half Italian so if Italy wins that's O.K. for me too.
Picture of the new video clip
After the interview, Gerre asks me about the weather in my whereabouts, about MetalStorm.ee and we also chat about various unrelated topics. Throughout this time he never stops cracking jokes. I've been following Tankard since the "Chemical Invasion" album was released (1987) and it was a relief to discover that since then, the band's singer hasn't lost his zest and priceless sense of humour.
As I finish typing this interview a thought crosses my mind. Although it is yet uncertain as to who shall soon raise the World Cup, somehow I'm pretty sure at that same moment Gerre shall be raising a cup of his own - one that is full of beer. Here's to another 25 years!
Many thx to Mr Gerre, Tankard and Jerome @ Underclass (http://www.underclass-music.com)
Chris Galea - luciferlament[at]yahoo[dot]com
Current Tankard line-up:
Vocals: Andreas 'Gerre' Geremia
Guitars: Andreas 'Andy' Gutjahr
Bass: Frank Thorwarth
Drums: Olaf Zissel
"The Beauty And The Beer" (2006)
"Fat, Ugly And Still (A)live" [DVD] (2006)
"Beast Of Bourbon" (2004)
"Kings Of Beer" (2000)
"Disco Destroyer" (1998)
"The Tankard" (1995)
"Two Faced" (1994)
"Stone Cold Sober" (1992)
"Fat, Ugly And Live" [Live] (1991)
"The Meaning Of Life" (1990)
"Alien" [EP] (1989)
"The Morning After" (1987)
"Chemical Invasion" (1987)
"Zombie Attack" (1986)
teh only problem I have with tankard is the production in their cd's whos is really really bad.....
the only albums which have a good and clean production are B-day, beast of bourbon, and of course the last one, the beauty and the beer...
that are the only albums I personally hear from tankard I love this albums, the guitars sound so damn heavy, and it past cd's it sounds so bad.....
well i ocassionally hear also to kings of beer but thats it......I'm only into the new phase of tankard
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